Nov. 20 Art Minute: Frans Hals, Van Campen Family Portrait in a Landscape

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Frans Hals (Dutch, 1582/83–1666), Van Campen Family Portrait in a Landscape. Oil on canvas, early 1620s. 60 in. by 64 3/4 in. Purchased with funds from the Bequest of Florence Scott Libbey in Memory of her Father, Maurice A. Scott, the Libbey Endowment, Gift of Edward Drummond Libbey, the Bequest of Jill Ford Murray, and other funds, 2011.80. Great Gallery

Frans Hals (Dutch, 1582/83–1666), Van Campen Family Portrait in a Landscape. Oil on canvas, early 1620s. 60 in. by 64 3/4 in. Purchased with funds from the Bequest of Florence Scott Libbey in Memory of her Father, Maurice A. Scott, the Libbey Endowment, Gift of Edward Drummond Libbey, the Bequest of Jill Ford Murray, and other funds, 2011.80. Great Gallery

Frans Hals, one of the three giants of 17th-century Dutch painting along with Rembrandt and Vermeer, was also one of the greatest portraitists of all time. Renowned for his dashing single figures of the Dutch middle class, often paired with a rendering of the sitter’s spouse, Hals also painted a number of group portraits, most famously of Haarlem civic guard companies. On at least four occasions he took up the challenge of family portraiture. The Museum’s example originally depicted a fashionably dressed couple with their nine children, all interacting affectionally through glance and gesture. Just a year or two after the painting’s completion, a 10th child was born. The figure of this infant girl, seated in the lower left of the composition, was added in 1628 by a different painter from Haarlem, Salomon de Bray (1597-1664), in a style noticeably different from that of Hals. Why Hals was not the one hired to paint the portrait of this most recent addition to the family remains a mystery. At some point before the end of the 18th century the canvas was cut vertically at the right. This segment showing three children with a goat cart exists today at the museum in Brussels.


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